INTERVIEWS: NADINE LAGGAR AND MELINA MELETAKOS PHOTOS: KOBUS BARNARD, BRAD
You’ve survived day one of Oppikoppi. What survival tip would you give to festival goers?
Inge: Take a nap.
Sasha: Bring some wet wipes. Your face gets dirty. Sun cream, shorts, a time machine.
Inge: You need a sense of humour in the dust.
Sasha: Oh, a dust mask is very important.
How did the collaboration of Beast come about?
Sasha: Well, there’s two stories in a way. One of them is that Louis and Rian were just chatting, and they were like, “Hey, why don’t we start a band with two basses?” They approached me because we all know each other from Kill City Blues, the rehearsal studio. I started jamming with them and then we were like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get Inge on vocals?” and we were like, “Let’s try, let’s try!” and then she accepted and the rest is history. A very short history.
To what extent is the music you are making as Beast influenced by the other bands you guys are in?
Inge: I don’t think it sounds like any of the other bands we are in.
Sasha: I think the only influence is that we are all musicians so we have our core influences of artists that we respect but it’s not really the same at all.
Why did you decide to use the two bass guitars instead of the standard guitar and bass?
Inge: That was Rian and Louis, really. They both play bass. Rian plays rhythm and Louis plays lead. Louis plays slightly higher ? he’s got a bit of a shorter bass which he plays through a guitar amp.
Do you think being in bands that are already quite well-established has made it easier to start off as Beast?
Inge: I think in a sense, definitely. If you are already in the circuit, in a semi-noted project, people follow you and like you, then the chances of them listening to you are higher.
Sasha: Also, being in other bands you get to learn the mistakes that other bands make as well. Like the ones bands make in the beginning, you get to learn quite fast, you know?
Do you guys have any plans to record an album any time soon?
Sasha: Ja, we’re recording in about three weeks. An EP.
Inge: We’re very excited about that.
Sasha: It’s about five or six songs.
Do you have a planned release date?
Sasha: Not yet.
Inge: Well, it will be nice to do it before the end of the year. That would be great.
Sasha: We’re excited to get it out.
What acts are you looking forward to seeing here at Oppikoppi?
Inge: I’m going to miss all the international acts, which sucks, but I’m definitely going to check out P.H.fat tonight and Haezer. Ja, a little bit of dance.
Sasha: Jeremy Loops. Diplo as well.
The whole rockabilly, saloon vibe has carved its own niche in the South African music scene. How did you guys decide on this genre?
Dom: For us, I think, it was just getting into the music by ourselves. I don’t think there’s anything locally influencing the drive behind it. I think it’s that we love music and rock and roll and for us it was like, “Well, no one’s doing it here and we love to go out and dance to a band that plays it, so let’s do it.”
Brandon: We’re also, I think, paying homage to the music that influenced us growing up. Our parents’ music got us into music initially and it’s wholesome and honest and very basic, you know? We put our own little spin on it. It’s rockabilly but we hate to be pigeonholed as rockabilly. You’ve got punk influence, a jazzy influence, so it’s really cool. I think it’s an eclectic style that we play. It’s upbeat. That’s the most important thing because you always want to jol.
There are quite a few members in the band. Does that add to the energy or can it get quite chaotic?
Brandon: It only adds to it.
Dom: The only time it’s a problem is trying to get all of us in the same room at once. Also, quite a few of our members play in different bands, so to coordinate is quite difficult. But in terms of playing together, there’s no issue with that. I think when we write music, we’re sort of getting to a place now where it’s like, “Okay, this part of the song just needs guitar or this part just keys,” so I think we’re trying to work together to keep everyone happy.
Brandon: Ja, not too chaotic as it could get. There are two guitars and keys and vocals all fighting for the same kind of frequency range and it’s kind of overpowering so now we’re trying to simplify it a bit.
You guys recently released your EP, Backseat Bingo. What’s the response been like so far?
Alex: It’s been amazing. It’s definitely been very positive. We worked very hard on it, it took us a while. I think it’s been a long time coming and people were quite amped for it to come out. It has now and everyone is stoked.
Dom: I think that the way that we notice that people are buying it is that we see the crowd is singing our words, so I think we’ve had a good response. The only negative has been that people have said, “Why is it only five tracks?” A girl that I know says she and her dad played it in the car and they just looped it because it’s too short.
Brandon: We would rather spend the little money we have on a sweet EP than a sh*tty album.
But are there any plans to come out with a full-length album?
Dom: Ja, definitely. Like I said, it’s hard to coordinate all of us, get us all in studio.
Brandon: And being in a band with two chicks, well that’s another whole interview. No, I’m just joking. They’re cool.
Do you guys have any Oppikoppi survival tips?
Brandon: Bring a dust mask.
Dom: And some sun cream. I brought so many warm clothes and it doesn’t seem to be snowing.
Alex: It’s our first Oppi. None of us have been to one before so we’re also sussing the vibe out, you know?
What can we expect from Peachy Keen for the rest of 2012?
Dom: Lots of touring, new music videos coming out and hopefully to have our album coming out soon.
Brandon: We’ll be in the studio by the end of the year. World domination, one step at a time.
You guys have released a string of pretty epic music videos. How much creative say do you have in them?
Eve: A hundred percent. We work in collaboration with a lot of different kinds of artists, like DJs and designers.
You were involved in the making of a fashion film, The Frown for Rayne // Bride of Zion. Can you tell us a bit more about the project?
Eve: It was a weird one, it was a good one. It actually started out as just a photo shoot with someone filming as we went and we came out with this beautiful video at the end of it and we actually tracked the song to the video. It was a different experience for us making a track to visuals. Music has always come first.
You’ve brought your EP out, ä-m?n, but are there any plans to record a full-length album?
Eve: We’re actually going to release two EPs, probably at the end of the year-ish. One’s going to be called Dream Gun and the other one’s going to be called Teenage Swim. The one’s going to be more dancey and the other is going to be more like witch house and trip-hop.
Collaborating with Spoek Mmthambo on the project Nombolo One put you on the radar. What was it like working with Spoek?
Eve: It was amazing. It was weird in a good way.
As a band you have quite a strong visual representation. What is it inspired by?
Cristopher: I don’t know, everything. We’ve tried to do the whole grunge band thing.
Derrick: Looking as horrible as you can but still with style.
Cristopher: But ja, at the moment it’s a republica, trashy vibe and it kind of influences all the aesthetic parts of it.
Do you have an Oppikoppi survival tip?
Eve: Don’t die. And if you have to die, do it fabulously.
Are there any acts you’re looking forward to at Oppikoppi?
Eve: I feel like I’ve missed the one I wanted to see.
Eve: P.H.fat. We were hoping to get in on that.
THE SUNDAY PUNCHERS
The Celtic pirate folk rock genre is quite unique to South African audiences. How do you think people have responded to it?
Michiel: Pretty well, actually.
Mostert: Surprisingly well.
Michiel: South Africans, it’s in our natures [to] drink a lot so I think it works well with South Africa because it’s so unique.
Mostert: There are no other bands here that do the same thing.
You guys have said that traditional Irish music as well as deep-rooted South African folk have a lot in common. Is it just drinking or is there something else?
Michiel: It’s just because we are Afrikaans, me and Mostert are Afrikaans.
Mostert: We grew up with our granddads listening to this old Boeremusiek and it’s basically the same thing as Irish music with the concertina and all those things. So, it’s in our roots. We incorporate the same kinds of things.
Michiel: We incorporate Boeremusiek with the whole punk rock vibe. We’re trying to make it unique [and] homey. We play what we play. We’re doing our South African vibe with the whole Irish thing.
You guys have counted down the days until Oppikoppi on Facebook. How does it feel now that you are finally here and you have three hours until your performance?
Mostert: It’s been a dream. I mean, ever since we started playing in bands we were like, “Hey, we want to go play at Oppikoppi one day,” and now it’s finally happened.
Michiel: I’ve had sleepless nights over this performance.
Mostert: I think he’s overreacting, it’s not that bad.
Michiel: It was that bad. Now, I’m just like, “I don’t care.” We’ll see what happens. I’m just going to go with the flow.
Have you got any advice for first timers at Oppikoppi?
Mostert: Bring lots of booze.
What acts are you most looking forward to here at Oppikoppi?
Michiel: Um, ours. [Laughs]
Mostert: Babylon Circus. They’re going to be amazing. Eagles of Death Metal as well. They’re super cool.
There are six members in your band now. Do you ever find it a bit chaotic?
Mostert: Every day. It was the worst decision of our lives. Never start a band of six people. It’s a nightmare, admin is horrible.
Michiel: We love everyone but … half of us [are] in Pretoria, half of us are in Joburg and it’s a nightmare.
You’ve said that South African traditions are at the heart of your music. Why do you think this has been the most influential factor of your music?
Lindani: You’re born and raised with it, you take it for granted, you look outwards. You find yourself travelling and I guess that becomes something to go back to, something precious. We wrote most of our so-called traditional sounding songs when we were not in the country. I don’t know. I guess it’s always with you.
Tshephang: It’s like the music that you don’t really listen to when you’re at home. You get there and it sort of follows you.
Are you working on a second album or a new EP release at the moment?
Lindani: Yes, we’ve been in production for a long time. You can’t rush a good thing. Good things come to those who wait, as they say. We’re feeling good ? we’re going to be playing a couple of new songs today.
When could we expect this new album to come out?
Lindani: We don’t know. We’ve stopped doing that. We started off going, “Next week, next month, next year.” Now we’re like, “Hold on.” I was actually saying to somebody the other night [that] it’s like when you feel really close to something and then something else happens and you realise that you are actually only half way there but that half way feels good because then you suddenly realise how much room there is to fill above what you thought was full. It’s complicated.
Your music has been known for its social commentary. Would you say that it’s a creative release or is it more of an avenue to open up a discussion about the things you think are important?
Tshepang: We don’t do that. We’re not into politics. It’s funny how people are always saying we are political.
Not specifically political, but social commentary. Like that song you guys did concerning taxi violence?
Lindani: But even that was a surreal look at that. That song specifically was about a kid who was in a taxi accident and just kind of tripped out on what he was seeing. He imagined it to be like an alien landing crash site. It was just a very otherworldly look at mundane things.
Tshepang: It was like a whole story in two songs. Taxi accident down by the lakeside and “Lakeside” is the next song.
Lindani: It was written pretty close, something for us, kind of like an exorcism.
Any advice for people coming to Oppikoppi on how to survive the weekend?
Lindani: Go hard.
Tshepang: They should drink more because if you drink you’ll forget about sh*t like this [points to dusty shoes]. You’ll forget about you Gucci shoes or whatever.
What acts are you most looking forward to seeing during the festival?
Lindani: Just saw Buckfever. Diplo tomorrow. All friends, all friends.
Tshepang: Actually Diplo is the first guy that we met before our international tours and stuff like that. We have a very good relationship with him, so we’re really looking forward to that.
If you could only take one item to Oppikoppi, what would it be?
Tshepang: A bottle of whiskey.
Any specific brand?
Tshepang: Johnny Walker Black. Or maybe Smirnoff, I don’t know. We once did a project with them. We said we drink whisky, we don’t drink vodka so they mixed Smirnoff with it. They had a new drink, Smirnoff Black and they mixed it with Johnny Walker Black and they called it Double BLK JKS.
You often wear a hat with a feather when you perform. Is there a story behind it?
Maybe, kind of, I guess. I haven’t been doing this very long. I mean I’ve been playing as Jeremy Loops now for just under two years. My very first show, I remember, I wanted to wear a hat and it just so happened that I had these feathers from a dress-up party. Somehow people latched on to the fact that I have feathers in my hat. For me it kind of feels like it gives me powers. When I’ve got my feathers I feel strong. Without my feathers, especially at a big thing like this, without my feathers I just don’t feel quite the same. I don’t feel weak, I just don’t feel the same. I do wear plenty of other hats, but at big shows like this I kind of tend to wear my feathers.
On your Facebook page you revealed that you are actually quite nervous to be playing at Oppikoppi. How do you prepare for a big show like this?
The way I prepare for a show like this is I don’t eat very well. [Laughs] I get really anxious in general, don’t sleep nights … I don’t know, there’s no way that you can prepare, other than think that the more I practice the better I feel about how it’s going to go, I guess. But at the same time, because there are so many variables, you never know what to expect. I think that’s what scares me. I was starting to get used to big club gigs because there are certain things that you know are going to be the same. But you never know with festivals what’s going to happen. Like, you could have no one turn up because there’s seven stages here (at Oppikoppi), or you could have a full-house and the sound could be great, but it could be terrible. So, with all those things there’s no way that you can really relax. Well, at least for me. I think some artists are far more relaxed.
How did your performance go this afternoon?
It went really well. I couldn’t have hoped for it to go better. The crowd was amazing.
It looked like you had a lot of fun.
I did have a lot of fun. As soon as I’m up there I’m fine. It’s the build up before, the uncertainty. As soon as I’ve sound checked and I know all my gears are working – I’ve got, like, ten different pedals that I’m using and they each have a function. If one of them isn’t working properly then I’m in a bit of a tough spot.
You started playing as a one-man band while travelling the world on a yacht but how did you start beat-boxing?
A good friend of mine taught me how to beat-box. In university I lived with a friend of mine, Patrick McKay – he’s from the band Two Minute Puzzle – we stayed in the same house. I couldn’t really afford rent at the time but half my rent would be paid for if I gave him guitar lessons. So I gave him guitar lessons and what he did eventually in return is give me beat-box lessons. That’s how I learned to beat-box.
Do you plan on releasing a full-length album anytime soon?
Ja, we’re working on a full-length album. I started releasing little snippets of tracks and I’m really enjoying the process. I’m taking my time though, I really don’t feel, like, in a rush. I feel like my strength is my live act anyway and I’ve come this far without really putting out much of the music. I’ve got about five or four songs already on the EP, which is about half the tracks I play in my live show. So yeah, it’s on the way, I don’t exactly know when.
You started Greenpop, a tree planting initiative with two friends. How did this come about?
It started as a bunch of friends getting together, having some fun, planting some trees and to try getting involved in under-privileged schools. Then we started to get a huge volunteer base, people coming out to support us, and with the volunteers came the media. The newspapers and [broadcasters] wanted to know why all these suburbanite kids were out in townships planting trees. And with all the media we decided, well, there’s a business model here, and we started Greenpop – a re-planting company and social enterprise. Obviously I’m very involved in the fun side of things, the entertainment. Strangely enough I also do the finance. I did finance at university so I’m completely on two different sides there. It’s been a lot of fun and we’re doing really well.
You recently went to Zambia for a project. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
It went amazingly; it was insane. We planted a total of 4133 trees, or something, with over a hundred volunteers from all around the world. It took us three weeks and we had a heck of a lot of fun there. Everyday we were in a new place. One of the days we planted trees at Victoria Falls, right on the water’s edge – it was beautiful – and yeah, had a great time.
You guys are involved in numerous other bands. How do you manage to find the time to balance them all?
Andrew: The other bands sort of take priority, obviously, because they’re bigger, but we try and make as much time as we can for Thieve.
To what extent is the music you are making as Thieve influenced by the other bands you are in?
Philip: I would say not at all.
Fred: It’s a different mindset.
Andrew: It’s a step away from that for us, actually.
Philip: It’s just doing whatever we can’t do with the other bands, together. It’s sort of like a retreat, a musical holiday.
Do you think being in all these other bands has made it easier for you guys to start out as Thieve?
Fred: Yes and no. We meet lots of people who make it easier for us to get around but also we don’t get any time to just throw shows.
Philip: I think it’s quite confusing for people as well. They’re very used to our normal line-up, our normal shows that we play and then putting on a Thieve show, they don’t really know where to place it. But after this show we’ll see what the response is like and take it from there.
You guys are releasing your new album here at Oppikoppi. How does it differ from the previous one?
Andrew: I think Fred is really particular so it’s definitely improved in terms of production. It’s just more self-produced, I would say. There’s a greater spectrum of sounds in the new songs as opposed to the old stuff.
Do you have a survival tip for festival goers to make sure that they get home in one piece?
Andrew: Organise a lift home.
There’s a Naked Dash happening on Saturday in Boomstraat. Are any of you going to participate or do you know anyone who is?
Fred: Yes, Philip. He gets naked wherever he can.
Andrew: The trick is to keep his clothes on till Saturday.